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Archive for December 2018

Try this ‘No Fail’ New Yr Resolution

You may know that I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions.

You know… The type that are usually broken within a week – so are not only useless but also make us feel like a failure too.

Nope, not a great system in my book.

But there is a system that I like.

I shared it last year, and with New Year upon us here’s an update and review on it this year too.


Okay – so the idea is to have two words – one that reflects on and sums up the year just gone, and one that sets your intention or goal for next year.


This way, there’s not a specific moment or thing you do or don’t do that means you broken this promise or intention, but still gives you some direction, drive and focus.


So, my word for last year was ‘step-up’.

(And yes – I know that’s technically 2 words, but there’s no mark scheme for this task) 😉

Do I feel I achieved that?

Yes and no.


Ways that I did:

Well one of the goals – a big thing was working with and in schools.

And I definitely did that.

Definitely started the ball rolling on being able to help and impact more students in that way through in school student workshops and resources for schools.

However, in focusing on that, I didn’t do as well with spreading my word and reach throughout Australia as a whole.

Growing my reach through optimising my hundreds of videos on Youtube and speaking to more different media, I have to admit, has taken a back seat.

On the other hand, I have stepped up with providing even more support to my community of parents and students.

I ran a free Facebook Pop-Up group for 3 months throughout exam season, with plenty of support and additional exam-specific tips, and I’ve also introduced a ‘Next Level’ coaching opportunity for graduates of the 10WGT.

So, still a couple of things to take forward and work on and also some proud achievements too.


So, what’s my goal for next year?

Or I should say my word for next year.



Because the plans I have for 2019 involve now not only working with students in schools through workshops, but also with schools at a higher level, through teachers and leadership too.

And to be totally honest, that is gonna take some bravery, to tackle this issue of integrating exam preparation, developing exam technique, actively teaching study strategies, essay strategy and more into an already crammed curriculum and bulging lesson plans.


But it’s a goal I’m setting myself so that these skills, tools and techniques aren’t limited to just the students who undertake the 10WGT, or whose school I’m delivering a workshop to.

I want to get as many students as possible happy, smart and successful in their study so that they confidently tackle the tasks and assessments they’re given and achieve the grades they’re truly capable of.


So, I’d love to know, what are your two words?

Can you use this as a conversation starter with your teen and have them consider theirs too?

Drop me a comment below this video to let me know 🙂

And whatever your plans and goals, I wish you and your family a SUPER Happy New Year.

Let’s make it an AMAZING year in 2019!




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Successful study is like a Christmas tree :) (Yep, really) ;)

I do love a Christmas Special Blog each year, and this is one of those!


I also love a good analogy, so here’s my version of
‘Study success is like a Christmas tree’


‘Study success is like a Christmas tree’

Yep – Really :0)


The tree itself – the trunk and the branches:

That’s having full knowledge and understanding of command words.

Knowing precisely what they all mean, what any questions are specifically asking for, and having the skills and tools to know exactly how to respond to them.

Why?… Because this is what pretty much everything else hangs on.


The ornaments and tinsel and other glittery stuff:

This is students’ subject knowledge.

Because remember… without the trunk and branches of the tree, i.e. the ability to APPLY their subject knowledge in the way the Q requires – then students could have all the ornaments in the world, but they aren’t going to be able to do much with em.

They’re just gonna stay in the box with nowhere to show off their knowledge/glittery gorgeousness 😉


And the star on the top:

This is QWC – quality of written communication.

It’s what makes their writing ‘shine bright’ (see what I did there) and stand out.

And again if there’s no tree to hold this up high,

then it doesn’t matter how well they write if it isn’t actually answering what the question’s really asking,

or isn’t at the right level of response.


I hope you enjoy that as much as I did coming up with it.


(Seriously, this is about as creative as I get. But I made a special effort – because, well, it’s Christmas of course…) 🙂

And with that, I want to say a huge thank you for being a part of the Rock Solid Study Community and letting me into your inbox each week. I truly appreciate it and hope that you’ve got a ton of value.


I wish you and your family a VERY happy, safe and fun-filled Christmas with wonderful people

(and a very pretty and very sturdy Christmas tree!).



P.S. I just learnt this Christmas joke. I’m terrible at remembering jokes… and at telling them. Just watch the video and you’ll see 🙂

What’s the first thing elves learn in school?

The elf-a-bet!

Okay that’s really it now – Merry Christmas! ?

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Use this Little-Known Resource for Researching and Referencing

Many students struggle at times with researching, finding valid sources (i.e. NOT Wikipedia) and referencing.

Yet one of the best resources for this very task is in schools and just waiting to help!

The problem is that few students even realise this ‘resource’ is there or on offer, and even fewer use them.

Here’s a message I got from a Y10 student back in the middle of Term 4.

She said:

“Hi Katie, I’m trying to do research for my science assignment and I’m really struggling to find good resources. I’ve found a bit of info about the different compounds in laundry detergents but it’s not very scientific and I can find hardly anything on the effects of how it pollutes the rivers and water. I’ve used Google Scholar like you said, but I’m not sure about how to find any journals like you suggested in school. Do you have any other advice?”

I replied to Eliza at the time and she took my advice, and I’m going to share with you in just a moment exactly what I told her to do.

Because she emailed me again a couple of weeks ago to tell me her assignment result and how happy she was with it…  aaaannnd how brilliant that piece of advice was and how well it worked for her.



So, this wasn’t something I specifically ended up helping her with – which is awesome news because that means ANY student can go do this 🙂

(And I know from experience that there are a lot of students out there who struggle with this, hence this blog video).


So, here’s the I advice I gave Eliza, and what any student can do to get extra help with their researching and referencing:

Go see the school’s Teacher-Librarian.

In my experience, they are one of the most under-used ‘resources’ (people!) in schools.

In most cases they are a qualified teacher and qualified librarian who therefore just loves helping students find info whilst also having a knowledge of how assignments and assessments work.

Perfect Combo!

*spreading fingers of both hands and inter-locking them together*


What’s more, because they work in the library, chances are they spend most of their time, with books and a lot of jobs that involve managing new orders, organising and admin.

Which is all good, but isn’t necessarily using all their skills and experience.

Which meeeeeans that when an actual real student – and a keen student at that – comes up to them asking for their expertise and assistance in the things they absolutely love to talk about and teach and work on, then chances are they’ll go all out to help them!

In fact – don’t tell them I said this and don’t get your hopes up too much, but I’ve even seen it happen where the teacher-librarian almost sits and does it all for the student, because they got so into it all. Not that that’s a totally perfect situation of course, but the student I saw this happen to, did thankfully sit and watch and listen avidly, following along with them so they could definitely do it themselves again next time.


But anyway, my point is, these staff are skilled in the exact thing students are struggling with and can’t wait to share everything and help those who ask for it.

So be sure to have your teen give this a go next time they have to research for an assignment or inquiry, and let me know how it goes when the time comes 🙂




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The Two Words I’ll Never Say Again (and why)

There’s been a TON of awesome stuff happening in the Exam Pop-Up Group I’ve been running over the past couple of months, but there’s also been something missing.

Two words that are super-common around exam time, but you won’t find me saying or writing anywhere.
It’s something I’ve found myself consciously avoiding saying or writing or typing more and more over the past year or so.
(You know, when something hits you and then kinda becomes a bit of a ‘thing’).

Here’s what it is, and most importantly WHY.

I’ve come to believe over the years, through both my work with students and in life in general, that we create our own luck.

So much so, that you won’t ever hear me say or see me write anywhere any more, the words:

“Good Luck!”.

It’s the most natural thing to say to someone as they go into an exam.
But I actively and consciously find alternative ways to send good wishes and positivity to students, and let them and their parents know that I’m thinking of them and sending them awesome vibes through the airwaves.

(Sometimes, that ain’t that easy! For someone like me who definitely isn’t a natural writer and doesn’t  just have a way with words!)

Here’s why…

Unless something comes down to the flip of a coin or roll of a die, then it’s never about ‘luck’.
It’s about the choices and decisions we make.

It’s about the actions we take.

It’s about the skills we choose to build, the ways we decide to work, and the strategies we choose to enact.


Let’s apply this to exams…

The questions on the exam paper will be pre-determined many weeks or even months previously to exam day.

They’ve been strategically written and selected and scrutinised.

It’s not about the ‘luck of the draw’ as to what Qs are on that exam paper as students open up that front page.

How well each student answers and responds to each question is dependent on their skills and abilities in:

  • dissecting the different elements of the question to understand what is required
  • how actively they revised and to what extent they prioritised the content the question’s covering
  • how skilled they are in constructing an effective and efficient response.

And each of those is a result of a series of conscious actions taken over the years, months, weeks and days leading up to that point.

In case you hadn’t already realised, I’m a big fan of being pro-active.

Of taking control of life’s situations (or doing my best to!) and not leaving things to chance.

Chance is ‘luck’ and ‘hoping’ and ‘wishing’.

I believe we can all take steps and actions to tip the odds (massively) in our favour.



P.S. I’d love to get your take on this! Let me know whether you ‘believe’ in luck or not in the comments!
And until next week, let’s MAKE this a fantastic week!
(See what I did there) 😉 


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